Central Midlands Council of Governments, Columbia, SC, 4-27-01

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U.S. Department
of Transportation

    400 Seventh St. S.W.
    Washington, D.C. 20590

Federal Transit
Administration
April 27, 2001

 

Re: FTA Complaint No. 99168

Dear (Name Withheld):

This letter responds to your complaint you filed against the Central Midlands Council of Governments (CMCOG), of Columbia, South Carolina, alleging noncompliance with Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (the ADA) and/or the Department of Transportation (DOT) implementing regulations at 49 CFR parts 27, 37, and 38. The FTA Office of Civil Rights is responsible for civil rights compliance and monitoring, which includes ensuring that providers of public transportation properly implement the ADA, the DOT ADA regulations, and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.

In the FTA complaint investigation process, we analyze the complainant’s allegations for possible ADA deficiencies by the transit provider. If we identity what may be a violation, we first attempt to provide technical assistance to address it by assisting the transit provider to comply with the ADA. If FTA cannot resolve apparent violations of the ADA or the DOT ADA regulations by voluntary means, formal enforcement proceedings may be initiated against the public transportation provider that may result in the termination of Federal funds. FTA also may refer the matter to the U.S. Department of Justice for enforcement.

Because of the limitation in resources, the majority of complaint investigations are conducted by telephone and written inquiry. In a few circumstances, where time and resources permit, investigations may be complemented by other means, such as compliance reviews or other on-site action. In this case, FTA conducted an on-site compliance review of CMCOG’s ADA Complementary Paratransit service, known as DART, in July 1999. Each letter of finding is developed based on the specific facts and circumstances at issue. A determination resulting from a review of these facts is not intended to express an opinion as to the overall ADA compliance of that transit property.

 We understand your allegation to be as follows:

  • DART could not guarantee you ADA Complementary Paratransit service at the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. in order for you to arrive at your job site consistently on time.

We reviewed the information you presented; referred to the assessment report; and made a determination on your allegations based on our analysis of the compiled information in relation to the DOT ADA regulations. Our determination follows.

We understand your allegation to mean that you were unable to obtain subscription service that would have enabled you to travel to and from work each day without making a daily reservation. The DOT ADA regulations state the following at 49 CFR section 37.133(a) – (c):

  1. This part does not prohibit the use of subscription service by public entities as part of a complementary paratransit system, subject to the limitations in this section.
  2. Subscription service may not absorb more than fifty percent of the number of trips available at a given time of day, unless there is non-subscription capacity.
  3. Notwithstanding any other provision of this part, the entity may establish waiting lists or other capacity constraints and trip purpose restrictions or priorities for participation in the subscription service only.

This regulatory cite means that transit agencies are under no obligation to provide subscription service, but may provide it if they choose under the above parameters. However, transit agencies are required by 49 CFR section 37.131(b) to provide "next day service," as follows:

The entity shall schedule and provide paratransit service to any ADA paratransit eligible person at any requested time on a particular day in response to a request for service made the previous day.

The DOT ADA regulations at 49 CFR section 37.131(b)(4) state:

The entity may permit advance reservations to be made up to 14 days in advance of an ADA paratransit eligible individual’s desired trips.

These requirements mean that a customer should be able to call at any time during the open reservation period, which is 14 days in advance at DART, and obtain a reservation for a ride. Apparently, you were not able to do so and consequently were not able to accept the job that you were offered. The findings of our assessment conducted at CMCOG indicated that DART experienced trip denials and placed persons on waiting lists for rides. Both of these circumstances would be evidence of capacity constraints.

FTA’s assessment of CMCOG’s ADA Complementary Paratransit service was initiated based in part on your complaint submitted to the FTA Office of Civil Rights. The specific issues in your complaint were addressed from a broader perspective by this assessment. Where we made findings of deficiencies, FTA will continue its follow-up with CMCOG until we determine that the deficiencies noted in the report are corrected. We intend to combine our monitoring efforts on the complaints with those addressing the assessment findings. When an ADA Complementary Paratransit system has capacity constraints, it is expected that the problems you experienced would occur.

Thank you for bringing this matter to our attention. We will be closing your complaint based upon our intention to proceed as described above. If you have any questions regarding this letter, please contact Roberta Wolgast, Equal Opportunity Specialist at 1-888-446-4511 or at her email address: roberta.wolgast@dot.gov. Please include the FTA complaint number on any correspondence with this office.

 

Sincerely,
/signed/
Cheryl L. Hershey
ADA Group Leader
Office of Civil Rights